New Story: “Michael Collins” & Guest Editing at SmokeLong!

Brand new installment of my series of “counterfactual biographies” up at Monkeybicycle today. This one is called “Michael Collins” and it’s about the Apollo 11 astronaut, not the Irish revolutionary.

Here’s a taste:

NASA announces Apollo 11 and he sketches a cartoon bald eagle landing on the moon’s surface, the Earth rising like a star in the background. The crew list goes up and he is on it, along with Neil and Buzz. Of the three of them, Michael has the most EVAs. Neil, the most experience as command pilot. Michael can feel goosebumps popping up over the scar on his back. He is going to be the first man to walk on the moon.

At home, he rinses off the dinner dishes and tucks the kids into their beds as if none of this is happening. He does not spend hours gazing at the moon, as he’s sure everyone imagines. He doesn’t even look at it. He keeps his head down, focuses on the complicated sequences of throttles and thrusters, how long it takes him to get in and out of his spacesuit, and keeping his stomach still during aerobatics.

When they tell him he’ll be the command pilot, that he won’t even board the lunar module, he doesn’t cry. He tells Pat late in the evening, after the kids have gone to bed and she, once again, channels all of her giddy energy into conjuring sad eyes for a long moment. Whether this makes him love her or hate her, he doesn’t know. For now, he can only feel this one feeling.

In other news, today starts the beginning of my week-long tenure as guest editor for SmokeLong Quarterly. SmokeLong publishes some of the best flash fiction available on the web, so if you’ve got something awesome, send it my way! You can find full guidelines, as well as their submissions manager here. Looking forward to reading your flashes!

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